October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual worldwide health campaign dedicated to increase the awareness of breast cancer and raise funds for research. The AICR/WCRF CUP reports on Breast Cancer Prevention and Breast Cancer Survivorship summarize the current research on diet, nutrition and physical activity. Angela Hummel is a clinical dietitian and specialist in oncology nutrition. She gets many questions from people getting ready to start treatment for breast cancer. Here are her answers to few of the most frequently asked questions.
In the past few weeks you may have seen news headlines about “nutrition research taking another hit.” At the center of those stories is Dr. Brian Wansink, a prominent food researcher from Cornell University. A university investigation found that he committed research misconduct, and now, over a dozen of his papers have been retracted by prestigious academic journals.
Most of his research is on how the food environment affects an individual’s eating behavior and food choices. For example, he reported that bigger plates correlate to eating more and that putting healthy choices like water, in front of all other beverages, led to more people choosing water more often. He did not conduct research looking at how diet impacts specific health outcomes, such as heart disease or cancer.
It is unfortunate that the recent retractions of Dr. Wansink’s research papers have led to headlines that challenge the broader validity of nutrition research. His research has no bearing on the link between diet and specific health outcomes, such as cancer. Organizations like AICR conduct systematic literature reviews and analyses of the highest quality research linking diet to cancer and other chronic diseases. Nutritional research is constantly evolving but assessments of the entirety of the available research provide the most reliable evidence on the relation between diet and cancer risk. Read more… “Wansink Debacle does not Undercut Nutrition and Cancer Link”
During our recent webinar, there were nuanced questions on whole grains and fibers, and we were unable to get to them all. I will try to address some of the important questions that came up and I think deserve a fuller response. Why do nutritional messages about lowering cancer risk talk separately about fibers and whole grains? Doesn’t taking care of one automatically take care of the other? Which is more important to lower cancer risk – fiber or whole grains? Whole grains are an important source of dietary fiber, and both are linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer. So there is an overlap between the two. In other words, each offers distinctive benefits, and it is important to consider how you include each in your everyday eating habits.